Organizing Memorabilia

organizing memorabilia

Memorabilia accumulates faster than I can put it into a scrapbook. Handwritten notes, artwork, cards, school papers…. so many school papers

Even though my scrapbooking supplies were organized, my mementos were not. And it was hard to make scrapbook pages and albums when the mementos were all over the place.


Display, Store or Scrapbook?

Looking around at my keepsakes, I realized that everything could be separated into three main categories: things to display on shelves and walls, things to put into scrapbooks, and things to store in boxes. For example:

Things to Display:

  • favorite artwork
  • favorite 3-D crafts
  • anything that makes me happy when I look at it

Things to Store:

  • baby clothes
  • laminated school booklets and projects
  • genealogy
  • items from my childhood or my husband’s
  • paper items that realistically won’t be put into scrapbooks
  • artwork and crafts not displayed or photographed

Things to Scrapbook:

  • select school papers
  • drawings
  • handwritten notes
  • cards
  • baby mementos such as hospital bracelets
  • brochures, postcards, tickets


Displaying Artwork and Keepsakes

I framed a lot of my children’s artwork and displayed them on the walls:

art display

I also framed some book jackets:

book jacket display

 I displayed pottery and trinkets on bookshelves, and used plate stands to prop up some items:

fish display

My most unique display of memorabilia is probably this one, made to commemorate my son’s obsession with white crayons as a toddler:

white crayon display


The Remaining Artwork and Crafts

Photographing artwork and crafts is a great way to keep mementos without taking up space. The photos can be stored on your computer or printed and put into scrapbooks.

My children know that we don’t have room to store every paper they bring home (thanks in part to watching an episode of Hoarders) and are happy to have their work photographed. I especially like photos of my children holding their 3-D projects – it helps me remember how old they were when the items were made.

My son posed for a photo of his 3-D Valentine’s Day box:

holden valentine box

I photographed my daughter’s drawing by placing it on the floor near natural light (see this article for tips):

scarlett flower art

Someday I may want to create a coffee table book of all the artwork.


Organizing Memorabilia for Scrapbooking

I knew that I wouldn’t put every item into a scrapbook. That was my old way of scrapbooking and it led to burn out and a three-year break from scrapbooking.

I wanted albums that were more like a summary or a complete story, so I decided to sort everything according to how I would realistically scrapbook them: by theme.

I opted to use clear, shallow, plastic bins. I like being able to see what’s inside. I like being able to simply toss in a paper and close the lid. I like being able to pick up a box, open it and survey the contents without items getting mixed in with another category. And I like shallow containers because items are more manageable.

Most of all, I think my past unfortunate incidences with water damage have made me fond of plastic containers with lids.

These are my Sterilite clear containers:

organized bins

Categories include:

  • Holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Travel
  • School (one for each child)
  • Baby/Toddler (one for each child)
  • Childhood (one for each child)

The boxes change as I make an album. For example, I used to have a box for Halloween, but after I made an album, I no longer had a need for a separate box.


Themes: Holidays, Birthdays, Travel, Baby

What to Include: patterned papers, themed embellishments, old layouts, journaling, mementos, photos

Why This Works: When I was finally ready to make a Christmas album, I simply pulled out the holiday box and started scrapbooking. Any photos that were left went back into the photo box (which I have organized chronologically). If I had no plans to use the remaining themed papers and embellishments, I discarded them. See the Christmas album process here.

The same idea works for each theme – I just pull out a box and start creating. I love being able to do that!


School Papers

This was a two-part process because of the sheer volume of papers and because I wasn’t sure how I was going to scrapbook them.

Sorting by Grade: One plastic container for each grade for each child. The current grade’s container stayed accessible; past grades went into the closet. As the children came home with a drawing or fabulous paper, it went into that year’s bin. At the end of the school year, I put the lid on the bin and it went into a closet with the others.

Sorting for Scrapbooking: When I finally purged, I kept glowing grades and teacher comments, best handwriting, a sampling of papers from each subject, and artwork. I am currently working on a school days album that I will post soon.


Keeping Up

I’m trying to keep up with the little notes my children give me before they get misplaced. Sectioned page protectors have made it easy because I can just slip in a paper without feeling the need to create an entire scrapbook page.

I still have a lot of past mementos to put into scrapbooks, but I’m making progress. And I love seeing my children’s artwork and crafts displayed throughout the house!

  • Tracie Claiborne

    Lisa – the thing I love best about you is your ability to put into writing exactly how your organized mind works!! I love your blogging style and love hearing you explain how you organize. This is an awesome, awesome post!!

  • Stacey

    Great post Lisa! Love how you’ve displayed so many items.

  • Katie

    I have a random question. So you said you make theme albums, does that mean you would not put Christmas pictures/layouts in the regular yearly book? Like if you had a book for 2013, you wouldn’t include books. Would you have a Christmas album just for 2013 or would it be a few years? Sorry, I’m just trying to figure out how to do my books. I’ve only been a mom for 3.5 years and I struggle with this! So far I just have giant books that include everything and go chronologically….

    • Lisa Moorefield

      Hi Katie – I don’t put themed layouts in my regular albums. My Christmas album includes 10 years, and each year is like a summary rather than several layouts. This is what the album looks like: It’s just easier for me to “keep up” if I make simple, themed albums.

      Right now I have albums for: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, School (one for each child), Baby’s first year (one for each child) and Birthday (one for each child), plus a few travel albums. Then I have regular albums that I try to arrange chronologically.

      I don’t make lots of pages anymore (too overwhelming), and this system works for me. :)

  • Moni/Penny

    the white crayons fascinate me.

    • Lisa Moorefield

      They are quite pretty, aren’t they?

  • Lorine McGinnis Schulze

    Lisa – the photo of your son has been pinned to Pinterest BUT the link back to your article has been removed, and the pinner has put his own URL in that field. I had 11 of my photos butchered this way on this pinner’s boards. So I filed a DMCA complaint and within 2 hours they removed his innappropriate pins. Please see my blog post for full details and how to take action. The photo of your son with replacement URL is at My blog post is at

    • Lisa Moorefield

      Thank you SO much, Lorine! I followed the instructions on your blog – it was very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to let me know about the pin, and hopefully Pinterest will remove the image from that person’s account soon.